bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Three days in Santa Fe–Big Trip #1

We visited Santa Fe in March 2016 as part of Big Trip #1.

We had a fantastic stay in Santa Fe, but we struggled a bit to get a real feel for the city. There are several distinct neighborhoods, connected by highways and strip mall corridors. Downtown is touristy; the Railyard District has a mix of interesting local spots, including the Farmer’s Market, and chain stores; and Canyon Road is pretty and artsy. Midtown seemed to have the most potential as a funky, kind of gritty area. Overall, the city has done a good job of enforcing architectural regulations so that generally all the buildings around town have a similar adobe look, which makes for a nice cityscape, but we were honestly underwhelmed overall by the city itself (maybe that’s in retrospect because we loved Flagstaff, which was our next town).

The absolute best place to spend time in Santa Fe, however, is not in any neighborhood, but on a hiking trail outside of town. Look at a map: Santa Fe is surrounded by green. We did most of our hiking in the Santa Fe National Forest and Hyde Memorial State Park, to the northeast of the city.


santa fe skies campground
santa fe skies campground

We stayed at Santa Fe Skies RV Park. It was fantastic, our favorite campground to date, mainly because of our private patio with a stellar view (including our neighbor’s sweet Airstream Bambi). Some of the amenities we appreciated at Santa Fe Skies were:

  • 3/4 mile-long soft surface path around the perimeter of the campground for running some energy out of the dog
  • Random sculptures made by a shareholder and antiques scattered about the grounds
  • Free Keurig coffee and peanut butter m&ms in the office
  • Easy laundry facility
  • Privacy and views at our site

Exploring Santa Fe

Our in-town wanderings were primarily in the following areas:


santa fe plaza
santa fe plaza
santa fe plaza

To orient ourselves to Santa Fe, we followed a walking tour of downtown, admiring the historic architecture and the sculptures scattered here and there. The little downtown is lovely, full of shops and restaurants, and we capped off our downtown adventure with drinks and guac on the terrace overlooking the busy Plaza at Thunderbird Bar and Grill.

Canyon Road

Canyon Road is a narrow, winding way lined with art galleries and restaurants. We had a late lunch of tapas at El Farol, on a recommendation from a nice man in the laundry room, after a hike in the State Park, and then popped into several galleries and fell in love with the most expensive piece we saw. No, we didn’t splurge on it. We live in a trailer, remember? Strolling Canyon Road is a lovely way to spend a couple hours.

Railyard District

We went here to check out a brewery, but were thrilled to see Violet Crown, our favorite new fancy, beer-serving neighborhood movie theater in Charlottesville. It’s in three cities: C’ville, Austin, and Santa Fe, which makes us feel pretty special. The Railyard District was a walkable cluster of shops, cafes, and galleries, including the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market, which, sadly, we weren’t around to experience.

Beer and Margaritas

We enjoyed local beers and expertly-made margaritas in various locations around town:

Margarita and local beer at Thunderbird Bar and Grill: The margarita was fresh and delicious, the proprietor was very friendly, and the people watching over the Plaza was fun.

santa fe marias margaritas

Margarita at Maria’s: The bartender was trying to kill me. The margarita menu at Maria’s is insane, with page after page of margaritas with almost imperceptible differences, so I asked the friendly barkeeps for a recommendation. They both agreed: the Horny Toad, which is like a more alcoholic margarita. Uh, ok. It was not my favorite, but if you’re a margarita person, you must go there. Plus, it’s a really cool old bar, cozy with low, beamed ceilings.

Margarita and local beer at the bar at Rio Chama: It seems you can’t get a bad margarita in Santa Fe. Loved it, and this is another really neat old bar. It made for a nice break while wandering Canyon Road.

santa fe brewery tasting

Beer flight at Blue Corn Cafe and Brewery

Beer flight at Second Street Brewery

Beer tastes at Santa Fe Brewing Co

Beers at Second Street Brewery‘s original location

J has smart things to say about Blue Corn, Second Street, and Santa Fe Brewing Co here.

Tacos, Guac, and Nachos (and other stuff)

Guac at Thunderbird Bar and Grill: Really fresh and tasty.

Fish tacos at Second Street Brewery: They were good, but not great. The fish was a little too fried.

Tacos at Blue Corn Brewery: J got a few meaty tacos, and I was excited to try the veg options: seasoned tofu, and squash. They were just ok, but we got an extra squash taco to take home and used the innards in an omelet the next morning, which was fantastic.

Guac at Maria’s: Spicier than we usually like, but so good.

Nachos at Second Street Brewery (original location): To me, the hallmark of really good nachos is cheese on the lower layer of chips. These nachos had excellent cheese distribution.

Corn chowder at Blue Corn Brewery: Amazing. Go eat it now.

Tapas at El Farol: Really delicious Spanish small plates! A great snacking/light meal option on Canyon Road.


Santa Fe is a hiking paradise. We did a couple half run/half hikes in a National Forest and State Park, and then went for a stroll in a county park to wrap up our visit.

santa fe national forest

We mostly ran, sorta hiked Atalaya Mountain Trail in Santa Fe National Forest. It’s rated as Easy on alltrails.com. WHAT. It’s not easy. Except for a horribly steep and rocky mile or so, it was a fabulous six-mile run–especially the last couple miles downhill. The views from the top are stellar, and the trail is very dog-friendly.

santa fe hyde park
santa fe hyde park

East and West Circle Trail, with Waterfall Trail spur, in Hyde Memorial State Park made a nice 3.7-mile run/hike. There was a nice steep part up to the high point on the West Circle Trail that we hiked, but otherwise it was a nice run with great views.

santa fe arroyo hondo
santa fe arroyo hondo

Arroyo Hondo Open Space, an 87-acre county property 7 miles south of downtown (and very close to our campground) was a lovely, low-key place to take the dog for one last walk to admire the Santa Fe scenery.


We were very excited to see high quality options for restocking trip necessities:

We got new trail running shoes at Running Hub. We randomly chose it from Google and were thrilled. Great shoes, great price, great service.

Whole Foods! Yay! There are two locations close together in a small city. Why? I don’t know. We were just excited to stock up on produce.

Trader Joe’s! Yay! Here we stocked up on packaged goods like nuts, rice, and frozen veggies.

PetSmart for replenishing dog food supplies. Bugsy says: Yay!

Dog-Friendly Santa Fe

A couple of the breweries with patios had big NO DOGS signs. Bugsy was able to walk around town with us, but wasn’t able to go into any shops or galleries or onto any brewery patios with us. The fantastic hiking options outweighed the in-town restrictions, however. Because of the myriad places you can hike with your dog, we declare Santa Fe to be very dog-friendly.


3 responses to “Three days in Santa Fe–Big Trip #1”

  1. […] off the interstate between Santa Fe and Flagstaff lies Petrified Forest National Park. We drove through, Airstream in tow, stopping for […]

  2. […] Santa Fe we both bought Brooks trail runners and loved them so much we quit hiking in our boots and just […]

  3. […] commercial area. Downtown Jackson has sort of a fancy cowboy feel to it (it reminded me of downtown Santa Fe actually), and it’s cute and all… but (you know what’s coming) it’s WAY too […]

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